Disclaimer: The author of this story is my father's son, yet I have no brother. It must not be Christopher Nolan, then.


"The point is that Bruce Wayne doesn't need a secret identity for any crime-fighting reason; he needs it because he's supposed to be a grown man, and his wealthy millionaire friends would laugh at him if they found out that he was wearing tights and driving around in a Batmobile chasing after the Joker (who, when he's not wearing his secret-identity disguise, is a gynecologist)." –Dave Barry, "Planning Your Male Midlife Crisis"


Harry Alter, M.D., yawned broadly as he stepped into the waiting room of his office, earning him a disapproving glance from his receptionist. "Pulled another all-nighter, did you, Doctor?" she said.

"Well, not absolutely all-nighter," said Dr. Alter. "I did turn in at around three in the morning."

The receptionist shook her head. "You know, you're going to have to give this up sooner or later, Dr. A.," she said. "People don't want to be hysterectomized by someone who's spent the past night out on the tiles."

Dr. Alter directed a smile toward her that was presumably intended to be indulgent, but that somehow sent a shiver down her spine. "My dear Miss Quinn," he said, "one of these days I really will have to take you on one of my nightly revels, if only to get you to stop talking stupidly about them. I'm much more likely to give up practicing medicine than I am to give up what I do in the evenings."

"Oh, really?" said Miss Quinn.

"Yes, really," said Dr. Alter. "Medicine is an uncongenial discipline, Miss Quinn. People who practice it are all too likely to become pompous, fat-headed idiots, convinced that they can keep fortune at bay with a few simple rules and chemicals. I participate in Gotham City's night-life to get away from all that: to remind myself that we're all leaves floating down a river, and ultimately, whatever I may tell my patients, bad health and bad luck are as unavoidable as the waterfall that's around the next bend. It doesn't pay to forget that, you know, Miss Quinn."

A disturbing, outlandish idea began to tug at the corners of the young receptionist's brain, but she dismissed it with a sardonic laugh. "Charming philosophy of life you've got there, Dr. A.," she said.

"Yes, so people tell me," said Dr. Alter. "Or rather, one person in particular, usually. But let's turn to more pressing matters. What have you got for me today?"

"See for yourself," said Miss Quinn, pulling the morning schedule out of her files and handing it to him. "Mrs. Kamalick's ovarian cyst has been acting up again, you'll have to check that out; then Mrs. Kenderdine's coming in for a Rubin's test, and our old friend Lauren Lehmann wants you to do one more Pap smear on her."

Dr. Alter licked his lips thoughtfully as he perused the schedule. "So what we can look forward to, then," he said, "is another fun-filled day of sticking metal implements into highly delicate parts of the female anatomy."

"Pretty much," said Miss Quinn.

"Well," said Dr. Alter, with another of his disturbing smiles, "I suppose even medicine has its rewards."